Thursday, November 18, 2021

Phase 1 of Bookmarks to take over for promoted results in Microsoft Search

As announced in the M365 message center post MC293777 Microsoft Search will over the course of November to December of this year execute phase one to deprecate the support of classic query rule based promoted results / best bets, and replace it fully with Bookmarks and Q&A answers.

Message center announcement: In order to improve the Microsoft Search experience, promoted results will no longer be supported in Microsoft Search for Organization level scoped searches and will be replaced by the Bookmarks and Q&A features.

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In 2019 Microsoft Search released Bookmarks and Q&A as the successor to promoted results for organization scoped queries. Since the launch Microsoft Search has seen a tremendous uptake in usage of Bookmarks and it currently outnumbers the classic feature by more than 3:1, and users have more success when using them.

Org scoped queries means queries performed from SharePoint Home office.com, the Work vertical in Bing, or if a user upscope on the search result page in SharePoint using the breadcrumb, and also sites in SharePoint configured to show org scoped results by default.

Up until now the search result page has returned both Bookmarks and promoted results, meaning admins has two ways to configure the same user experience. With this change promoted results will stop being shown in Microsoft Search, but will continue to work in classic search experiences (for those still clinging to it), or experiences built on SharePoint Search API’s.

Microsoft made the change internally over a year ago and the time has now come for the rest of the world!

Why bother?

I’ve worked with query rules ever since they were introduced in SharePoint 2013 and they are a pain to work with. Which is why I way back in 2014 came up with an easier approach, “Better best bets with lists”, and some premier field engineers in Microsoft iterated it to “Even better best bets with lists”.

Well, those times are over my friend, and here’s my list of benefits using Bookmarks/Q&A over promoted results:

  • Management
  • Management
  • Management – if you ever tried to manage more than 10 query rules, you must like to be challenged for patience
  • Targeting – you can times scope a bookmark (also possible with query rules), you can geo-target, you can AAD target and you can device target Bookmark answers. Something very hard to accomplish with query rules.
  • Client support – Bookmark answers will show in SharePoint, Office.com and Microsoft Search in Bing, with more to come. As Microsoft Search is not only SharePoint you can expect Bookmark and other answers to show in the full M365 eco system of client applications when applicable! Currently rolling out to Teams.

Phase 2

For phase 2 Microsoft will target replacing promoted results in site and hub site scopes scenarios. Phase 1 will not affect site search and hub site search at all. These will continue to work as today until a replacement is available. Microsoft also aim to auto-migrate any site scoped promoted results to Bookmark answers – so you don’t have to visit all those thousands of site to ensure it continues to work as expected . Exact timelines for phase 2 will be shared when available.

What you need to do to prepare

Microsoft Search provides an alternative to promoted results using either Bookmark or Q&A answers.

If your organization set up Promoted Results in SharePoint, you can import the Promoted Results into Microsoft Search and make the imported content available to your users. This is an easy way to quickly populate search results as soon as you set up Microsoft Search and make it more effective for your users. We recommend using promoted results from SharePoint as a reference to understand how to name and create relevant search results.

Microsoft Search allows a search administrator to import promoted results as Bookmarks. To import promoted results, in the Microsoft 365 admin center, open the Search & intelligence admin center and then select Answers. In the Answers dialog, select Bookmarks and choose Import SharePoint results to import promoted results from SharePoint. Also see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftsearch/manage-bookmarks#import-sharepoint-results.